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New technologies: horizontal drilling and fracking

For oil wells drilled in the 20 th century, going back a hundred years, 60-70% of oil has been left behind . Recovery of oil in reserves ranged from 25% to 40%.

There are thousands of these older wells all over the world, especially within U.S. and Mexico – 23% of abandoned wells are in Texas. Under the technology of the 60s, 70s and 80s it was not worth going after left-behind oil. These old wells need 21 st century technology to cough up their treasure. That is happening on a major scale, owing to technological change.

Contrast old technology with new drilling technology. Bear in mind that subsurface oil does not lay below the surface in pools, but is contained in rock and or sand. In 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s virtually all drilling was vertical. The wellstring would penetrate a hydrocarbon deposit in one location only (see Figure 15-2 ).

Recoveries of available hydrocarbons in such deposit were 25%-40% at best. But then two technologies in use before 2000 were combined in 2003. These were:

  • Directional Drilling (Includes Horizontal Drilling) (See Figure 15-3)
  • Fracturing (“Fracking”, to break open deposits so that the contained oil (or natural gas) will flow more readily to the well string).

It helps to understand directional drilling and fracking if one knows that the success of these technologies is heavily IT based, with very advanced graphics. Directional (horizontal) drilling made it possible to extract oil from the entire length of the deposit, rather than one or two spots in the vertical plane.

It is easy to see that with horizontal drilling much more of the reservoir is accessible to the driller.

Now combine fracking with directional drilling. Fracking has been used for decades in some formations, but on a limited basis. Only in about 2007-09 did drillers begin to use it together with horizontal drilling. The shale revolution now underway consists of tapping “tight” shale rock with directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing to yield substantial oil and gas not available with previous technology.

In fracking, the operator pumps at extremely high pressure, water (fresh or saltwater) and sand into the formation (see Figure 15-4 ). This breaks up the rock, so as to initially free the oil (or gas) to flow to the wellstring. As discussed later in this chapter, very large quantities of water are required for fracking each well.

A proppant is then added in the water, sand is added to the fluid in increasing amounts to “prop open” the fissures caused by fracking. One well may require as little as 7 million or as much as 20 million pounds of sand. The mix of water and sand allows more oil (or gas) to flow up the well string to the surface.

Fracking on a large scale first became feasible when international oil prices exceeded $75 per bbl. Technological progress in 2013-2014 has sharply improved the productivity of fracking. For example, in June 2013 average fracking operations needed a crude oil price of $70 per barrel to be profitable. By October 2014, the average well required only $57 per barrel to be profitable. Financial Times, October 23, 2014, p.18.

Questions & Answers

I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
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How can I make nanorobot?
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Economic development for the 21st century. OpenStax CNX. Jun 05, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11747/1.12
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